Our food & beverage experts at Sharp Think had the pleasure of attending this year’s Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City, put on by the Specialty Food Association. We love to attend, both to support existing clients exhibiting at the show as well as to walk the expansive halls and see the latest and greatest in F&B from all around the world. Attending the show gives us insights into the newest and most innovative product launches in the industry, where consumers’ needs may be shifting, and ensures our team continues to keep a finger on the pulse of relevant trends. Below our team identifies our top trends from the show.

Plant-Based Cheese…Elevated

While plant-based cheese isn’t new, the category has been pegged as the next big area for growth in plant-based dairy due to shifting consumer preferences and a rise in food-related allergies. Walking around the show, our team was impressed with the quality, flavors, and range of formats available. We loved RIND’s “Blue-Style” Cave-Aged Cheese as well as their new Carrot Cheese Slices that have a melty, gooey texture when heated. We couldn’t get enough of Farmer Foodie’s versatile and vegan Cashew Parm powder which can be utilized in so many different ways. Lastly, we need to mention Armored Fresh, a brilliantly playful brand that touts health as much as it does sustainability with a range of nostalgia-inducing products made from almond milk.

Conscious Imbibing

The sober curious culture has been on our radar for some time and there has been a recent resurgence with health-conscious Gen Z consumers and a broader societal push towards overall wellness. Our team was excited to see so many lower-calorie, 0% ABV formats with refreshing flavors and high-quality ingredients to meet this growing need. We were inspired by each brand’s mission to encourage conscious drinking and eliminate the feeling of FOMO for consumers. We loved Mingle Mocktails naturally-infused botanical beverages, especially the Cranberry Cosmo’s crisp citrus taste that left us wanting more. Over at Fauxmosa, our taste buds were transported to a tropical escape where we enjoyed the Pineapple with Lemon & Mint flavor, a perfect pairing with any brunch menu. For a more elevated experience, TÖST Rosé presented a sparkling white tea with a ginger and elderberry flavor profile that is sure to be a refreshing addition to your summer brunch lineup. 

Better-For-You Snacking

According to a recent study published by the National Institutes of Health, snacks account for nearly a quarter (22%) of energy intake among American adults. For this reason, we were thrilled to see so many amazing players in the space offering better-for-you options, focusing on clean ingredients, with vegetables taking center stage alongside protein-packed indulgences. Root offered a range of crunchy chips quite literally consisting of real vegetables like tomatoes, zucchini, onions, and green beans, while Popadelics claimed superfood status with their crunchy mushroom chips in flavors like Trippin’ Truffle Parm and Twisted Thai Chili. For a more savory experience without the crunch, we also loved Jack & Friends’ plant-based jerky made from jackfruit and pea protein. To end things on a sweet note, we were also big fans of the amusingly named Scott’s Protein Balls, and Woah! Dough products — both serving up super clean, plant-based bites in fun flavors like Confetti Balls and Sprinkle Sugar Cookie Dough.

Bold & Bright Packaging

If you’re anything like us, your eyes gravitate toward brand packaging while walking the aisles of the grocery store. Well, the same habit applied to the aisles of the show floor! While exploring each booth, we couldn’t help but lean towards packaging that encompassed playful, fun designs with bright colors and bold fonts that were not only eye-catching but also signified the brand’s personality. From Owl’s Brew and Alchemy Spice Co to Raaka Chocolate, we were obsessed with the use of pastel and jewel-toned color palettes. Spare Tonic and Alexandra’s Pierogies opted for a more traditional look with fun font elements that kept the packaging fresh. We loved Chef Bombay’s standout design aesthetic with solid colors and bold brand logo, making the dishes the main focal point of each box (Hello, Butter Chicken!). Bumbleberry Farm's also impressed us with their playful use of ingredients within the label design on the delicious honey jars. 

Flavor Bombs 

While you may have heard about the deeply troubling sriracha shortage, umami-loving fans need to know that they have lots of other incredible options to turn to when it comes to hot sauces, dips, and more that pack an unexpected punch in the flavor department. We loved Fly By Jing’s Sichaun Gold chili oil which offered a “tingling” full-body flavor experience and Bravado Spice Co.’s hot sauces using high-quality ingredients like manuka honey and fresh pineapple. Maazah, a family-run company making Afghan-style chutney that you’ll want to put on everything from eggs to pizza to fish. Stepping outside of the condiment space was Wine Chips which came in flavors like Manchego Cheese and Dry-Aged Ribeye - all created to be the perfect wine accouterment. 

As always, the Fancy Food Show did not disappoint! If you’re interested in learning more about the food and beverage work our team executes every day, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us here